Green tactics rely on fear and exaggeration

From The Green Scare Problem by Matt Ridley in the 8/13/15 WSJ:

Making dire predictions is what environmental groups do for a living, and it’s a competitive market, so they exaggerate. Virtually every environmental threat of the past few decades has been greatly exaggerated at some point. Pesticides were not causing a cancer epidemic, as Rachel Carson claimed in her 1962 book “Silent Spring”; acid rain was not devastating German forests, as the Green Party in that country said in the 1980s; the ozone hole was not making rabbits and salmon blind, as Al Gore warned in the 1990s. Yet taking precautionary action against pesticides, acid rain and ozone thinning proved manageable, so maybe not much harm was done…

The measures needed to decarbonize world energy are going to be vastly more expensive. So we had better be sure that we are not exaggerating the problem.

But it isn’t just that environmental threats have a habit of turning out less bad than feared; it’s that the remedies sometimes prove worse than the disease…  the financial, humanitarian and environmental price of decarbonizing the energy supply is proving much steeper than expected. Despite falling costs of solar panels, the system cost of solar power, including land, transmission, maintenance and nighttime backup, remains high. The environmental impact of wind power—deforestation, killing of birds of prey, mining of rare earth metals—is worse than expected. According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, these two sources of power provided, between them, just 1.35% of world energy in 2014, cutting emissions by even less than that.

Indoor air pollution, caused mainly by cooking over wood fires indoors, is the world’s biggest cause of environmental death. It kills an estimated four million people every year, as noted by the nonprofit science news website, SciDev.Net. Getting fossil-fueled electricity and gas to them is the cheapest and quickest way to save their lives. To argue that the increasingly small risk of dangerous climate change many decades hence is something they should be more worried about is positively obscene

In short, the environmental movement has repeatedly denied people access to safer technologies and forced them to rely on dirtier, riskier or more harmful ones. It is adept at exploiting people’s suspicion of anything new.

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